Category Archive: News

Would You Walk or Bike to the New Seattle Center Arena?

We need YOU to speak up for walking and biking at the Special City Council Meeting for Civic Arenas at Seattle City Hall this Friday, September 14, at 9:30 am.
The City Council will vote on ordinances relating to the redevelopment of the Seattle Center Arena (formerly known as Key Arena) this Friday, September 14, at 9:30 am. Public comment will be at the beginning of the meeting.
Show Up and Ask the City to:
  1. Complete the Basic Bike Network by requiring OakView Group (OVG) to fund a small square of safe bike connections immediately surrounding Seattle Center and the new Arena: on Roy St, 5th Ave, and Broad St in addition to the already-planned 1st Ave N / Queen Anne Ave Couplet. This will provide safe, connected routes for people on bikes from SLU and points north, not just from downtown.
  2. Extend pedestrian routes off of Seattle Center Campus to the East (to SLU), South (to Downtown), and West (to the waterfront).
  3. Put a hold on implementing adaptive signal technology until it can measure and mitigate pedestrian delay.

We will be there with signs to share. RSVP to Clara@Seattlegreenways.org or by replying to this email.

A group of people smiling and waving signs in support of the Safe Streets and the Basic Bike Network
The expansion of the Seattle Center Arena (formerly Key Arena) is slated to begin construction this October. The Arena developer has a responsibility to the City to ensure that event attendees have viable, comfortable, and efficient transportation options, and to incentivise their use. But the current plans map out a future for Uptown clogged by cars.

The current plans include a goal to have a whopping 55% of opening day arena event attendees arrive by private vehicle, with only 1% of event attendees arriving by bike and 10% by walking. We need City Council to require this big development to aim for more efficient transportation.

NHL Seattle found that 40% of expected attendees live within 4 miles of the arena. That’s 5,000 more people per event that could be choosing to walk or bike to the Arena if it were a comfortable, intuitive experience. Additionally, no matter how people start their journey to the arena, every event attendee will be a pedestrian for some part of their trip – walking to transit hubs or parking garages.

People walking on a city street.

Developer investments in walking and biking infrastructure will improve the transportation experience for those arriving via any mode, minimize the negative impacts on the neighborhood, increase interactions between event attendees and local businesses, and will have the largest positive impact for the dollars spent.

The Oakview Group (OVG), the Arena developers, have been asked to fund many positive improvements, including:

  • Protected bike lanes (PBLs) and bus-only lanes on 1st Ave N and Queen Anne Ave, directly in front of the arena. Additionally, some pedestrian improvements to Seattle Center Campus and streets immediately adjacent.

  • Centralized locations for a small amount of personal bike parking, to stage and park bikeshare bikes, and bike facilities for employees.

  • Designated drop off zone for TNCs, creating predictability and reducing conflicts and safety issues between TNCs and people walking and biking (negotiations still underway).

However, this mitigation represents the bare minimum, and City Council should push OVG to be more aggressive in their modeshare goals and to fund the transportation mitigation that will enable success in reaching them.

Map of the Basic Bike Network

We Need YOU to Show Up and Ask the City to:

  1. Complete the Basic Bike Network (above) by requiring OVG to fund a small square of remaining connections immediately surrounding Seattle Center and the new Arena: on Roy St (1st Ave N to 5th Ave), 5th Ave (Roy St to Broad St), and Broad St (2nd Ave to 5th Ave) in addition to the already-planned 1st Ave N / Queen Anne Ave Couplet. This will provide safe, connected routes for people on bikes from SLU and points north, not just from downtown.
  2. Extend pedestrian routes off of Seattle Center Campus to the East (to SLU via Thomas St Greenway), South (to Downtown via 4th Ave), and West (to the waterfront and the Elliot Bay Trail via the John Coney overpass). This includes wayfinding, lighting, ADA compliant curb ramps, and sidewalk repair.
  3. Put a hold on implementing adaptive signal technology until SDOT commits to measuring and valuing delay for people walking (as they do currently for people driving), and the technology advances to a point where it is able to measure and minimize that delay.Friday, September 14, at 9:30 am.

We’ll see you there!

 

A headshot of Clara Cantor

Clara Cantor

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

Too many kids are being injured along Rainier Ave

We have had enough of kids being injured along Rainier Ave. Last week, two young girls were hit at the intersection of Rainier Ave and S Henderson St, and another was hit back in May of this year.

There is a crash every single day on Rainier Avenue South on average. The city must act now to fix Seattle’s most dangerous street.

Here is how you can help:

1) Sign the petition asking the city to improve the intersection of Rainier Ave S and S Henderson St before school starts, and to finish the Rainier Ave safety redesign project.

2) Join us for a discussion this Saturday with the mayor

Who: Mayor Jenny Durkan and people who care about fixing Rainier Ave
What: A respectful discussion of community concerns and potential solutions.
When: 1:00 to 1:45 this Saturday, August 18th
Where: Intersection of Rainier Ave S & S Henderson St
RSVP
: https://www.facebook.com/events/305026020255076

Thank you for caring and taking action,

Gordon Padelford
Executive Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

P.S. We have not yet been able to make contact with the family/families of the two girls who were hit last week. If you know them and could put us in touch so we can support them we would be very grateful.

Three wins for people walking and biking

Some of the Basic Bike Network supporters at City Council on July 30

What a Monday! On Monday, July 30 at Seattle City Council passed three exciting pieces of legislation:

  1. The Seattle City Council unanimously voted today in favor of building major pieces of the basic bike network. Thanks to this vote you and your loved ones will have safe, protected routes to bike into and through downtown Seattle from the north, south, and east (2nd Ave to Westlake, Dearborn, and Broadway) by the end of next year. Read more.
    BasicBikeNetworkMap-Resolution-Emphasis
  2. The Council also voted unanimously to require SDOT to improve walking and biking conditions in the Delridge neighborhood as part of the Delridge Way Multimodal Corridor Project. Read more.Potential Delridge bike network compromise
  3. The Council also voted unanimously to pass an expansion of the privately funded bike share program with a focus on equity and reducing the number of bikes blocking sidewalks. Read more.

29623886668_bf81942d60_oAppreciate these wins? Support our work so we can keep this momentum going.

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#BasicBikeNetwork FINAL VOTE July 30!

Thanks to continued community support of the Basic Bike Network, we are on the final steps of a major win: the full Seattle City Council will vote on July 30 whether to construct three critical bicycling connections by the end of 2019!

Show up on Monday, July 30, 2:00 pm, at Seattle City Hall to stand with the group and demonstrate the need for the #BasicBikeNetwork.

RSVP and learn more.

Can’t make it? Send an email voicing your support.

A woman and her two children sit in the City Council chambers smiling and holding handmade signs in support of safe streets.
What’s the Basic Bike Network? It’s a vision for a connected network of safe streets to bike on–not just disconnected pieces here and there.
But the basic bike network has been delayed year after year, including a disappointing delay announced this March. We raised our voices, rallied in front of City Hall, and even took to the streets for Seattle’s first people-protected bike lane to make our message clear: We can’t wait any longer to make our city safer and more accessible.

And we are starting to be heard. You may have seen our message that, thanks to your advocacy, the city committed to protected bike lanes on the Pike/Pine Corridor without further delays. And last week, in front of an impassioned crowd of community members advocating for safe streets, this legislation passed unanimously out of the City Council’s Transportation and Sustainability Committee. Help us keep the momentum going.
If this legislation passes, you and your loved ones will have safe, protected routes to bike into and through downtown Seattle from the north, south, and east (2nd Ave to Westlake, Dearborn, and Broadway) by the end of next year. Let’s make this happen.
A comparison between current, unsafe conditions at the intersection of Pine and Boren and a happy image of a protected bike lane filled with happy bikers on a rainy day.
When: Monday, July 30, 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Where: Seattle City Hall, in the Council Chambers (2nd floor).
How: By standing with us and holding signs of support (we will have some available) during the public comment period of the meeting. It is likely to be a crowded meeting, so we will stand up to speak as a group. If you’re interested in speaking please contact clara@seattlegreenways.org. Kids and families very welcome!
Thank you and we’ll see you on July 30!

A headshot of Clara CantorClara Cantor

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
WebsiteTwitterFacebook

P.S. Thank you for your continued advocacy – you are making a difference!

Basic Bike Network Vote July 18!

Thanks to incredible community advocacy in support of the Basic Bike Network, we are on the cusp of a major win: the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee is considering legislation requiring the construction of three critical connections by the end of 2019, but we need your support!

Show up at noon on Wednesday, July 18, at Seattle City Hall, and ask the Council to vote for the #BasicBikeNetwork. We will have snacks and signs, or feel free to bring your own.

RSVP and learn more.

Can’t make it? Send an email voicing your support.

ApuTestifingAtCityHall

What’s the Basic Bike Network? It’s a vision for a connected network of safe streets to bike on–not just disconnected pieces here and there.

BasicBikeNetworkMap2018

But the basic bike network has been delayed year after year, including a disappointing delay announced this March. We raised our voices, rallied in front of City Hall, and even took to the streets for Seattle’s first people-protected bike lane to make our message clear: We can’t wait any longer to make our city safer and more accessible.

And we are starting to be heard. You may have seen our message that, thanks to your advocacy, the city committed to protected bike lanes on the Pike/Pine Corridor without further delays. Help us keep the momentum going.
If this legislation passes, you and your loved ones will have safe, protected routes to bike into and through downtown Seattle from the north, south, and east (2nd Ave to Westlake, Dearborn, and Broadway) by the end of next year. Let’s make this happen.
A comparison between current, unsafe conditions at the intersection of Pine and Boren and a happy image of a protected bike lane filled with happy bikers on a rainy day.

Join us as we tell the City Council: Vote for the Basic Bike Network now! When: Wednesday, July 18, 11:50 am – 12:20 pmWhere: Seattle City Hall, in the Council Chambers (2nd floor).RSVP: On Facebook or to clara@seattlegreenways.org

How: By standing with us and holding signs of support (we will have some available) during the public comment period of the meeting. If you’re interested in speaking please contact clara@seattlegreenways.org. Feel free to bring a bag lunch and a friend. Kids and families very welcome!

Can’t make it? Send an email voicing your support.

Thank you and we’ll see you on July 18!

A headshot of Clara CantorClara Cantor

Community Organizer

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

 

P.S. Thank you for your continued advocacy – you are making a difference!

Pike/Pine in 2019: Big win thanks to your advocacy!

Thanks to your advocacy, the Mayor and SDOT staff have committed to building safe, protected bike lanes on Pike/Pine connecting downtown and Capitol Hill by 2019!

Please take a moment to thank the Mayor now.

A group of people holding signs in support of the Basic Bike Network gathered around a speaker at a microphone.

This is a significant win in a prolonged campaign for the Basic Bike Network. We have gathered to raise our voices time and again—via email petitions, in City Council chambers, and at powerful rallies—and we are being heard. 

That’s why we are so excited that the Mayor and SDOT have committed to building the crucial east-west connection of the Basic Bike Network in 2019, with additional upgrades to follow in the coming years. 

A comparison between current, unsafe conditions at the intersection of Pine and Boren and a happy image of a protected bike lane filled with happy bikers on a rainy day.

Please take a moment to thank the Mayor for committing to building protected bike lanes on Pike/Pine from Downtown to Capitol Hill in 2019! Let’s keep the momentum for the Basic Bike Network going!

Thank you for your continued advocacy – you are making a difference!

Safer Crossings for Madison Park Business District

Story by Bob Edmiston, Madison Park Greenways.

In the summer of 2013, a Madison Park resident was struck by a driver while walking across East Madison Street in a marked crosswalk, in broad daylight—and was critically injured. The community organized and formally asked the City of Seattle to make it safer to cross the street in our little neighborhood business district.

The community’s focus was on a complicated 6-way intersection where East Madison Street, McGilvra Blvd East and East Garfield Street meet. Many of the crossing distances there ranged from 50-100 feet across, exposing people on foot to hazardous speeding traffic. Parking near and within the intersection was blocking critical lines of sight between people walking and people driving. The combination of these compounding design flaws are thought to have factored into the tragic collision of 2013. Fixing these hazards became the objective of our Madison Park Greenways group.

MadisonParkSafeCrossingIntersectionImprovementProjectIllustrationMedium

 

Five years later, after many grant applications, pitches, community design meetings and countless volunteer hours, the project is now nearly complete. The results are excellent. The adjoining streets have been squared up, entrances narrowed, curb lines moved in order to reduce pedestrian crossing distances and sight lines have been improved. Landscaping is being restored in a way that will permanently keep sight lines clear.

MadisonParkSafeCrossingMadisonAndMcGilvraMadisonParkSafeCrossingMcGilvraElementary7MadisonParkSafeCrossingMcGilvraElementary2MadisonParkSafeCrossingStarbucks1

 

By eliminating the worst safety issues of this very complicated intersection, this project has made Madison Park’s central intersection feel safer to cross on foot and safer to drive through. Since this intersection is the primary crossing for children who attend McGilvra Elementary School, the improved intersection opens up the possibility of walking or biking to school to more of the community.

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The man who was critically injured has recovered has been anticipating completion of this project. It was his desire that the crossing between Wells Fargo Bank and Starbucks be finally made safe for those who live, visit and work here.

MadisonParkSafeCrossingWellsFargo2MadisonImprovement1Medium

 

This project would not have been possible without a sustained multi-year direct collaboration effort between the Madison Park Community Council, the Madison Park Business Association, Madison Park Greenways and the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Department of Transportation staff. They have all done outstanding work. We plan on holding a ribbon cutting celebration soon.

Inspired by this community-driven success story? Pitch in to help make more outcomes like this possible.

West Seattleites Organize for a “Multi-Modal” (Walk, Bike, Transit) Delridge Corridor

Photos and story by Don Brubeck, West Seattle Bike Connections. Updates by SNG Staff.

Doug is a scientist and lover of beer. He lives in Delridge, and he wants a safe and comfortable way to ride with his wife and child to White Center. Doug was a pro bike racer, but he is not comfortable riding with his family on Delridge Way.

Charmaine is a musician and square dance caller. She lives in White Center and wants to be able to bike with her husband and child to Delridge’s library, parks, and community center.

Right now, neither of them has good options, so they organized a ride with other West Seattle Bike Connections members, Gordon Padelford from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Kelsey Mesher, and three SDOT employees to look into improvements.

WSBCDelridgeRide1

 

Top priority: a multimodal corridor

West Seattle Bike Connections’ top priority for 2018 is the Delridge RapidRide H multimodal corridor project. This is the opportunity to make the street safe for people walking and biking, including getting to and from the new RapidRide stops. This is one of the Move Seattle Levy projects that WSBC members worked hard to pass, because of the positive impact it can have for the traditionally underserved neighborhoods of the Delridge Corridor. Delridge is the flattest, most direct route through the valley (the “dell” between the ridges), from the south end at White Center to the north end at the West Seattle Bridge and the Alki and Duwamish Trails.

Assessing the needs and possibilities

WSBC did scouting rides, discussed issues and mapped routes. With Gordon’s help, we evaluated our possibilities for success and developed strategies. Gordon and Kelsey helped us gain access to SDOT staff for meetings and rides. We reached verbal agreements in principle from SDOT staff to some key requests we made for Delridge, and for spot improvements to the alternate northbound greenway bike route that SDOT has proposed. Our next steps are to build community support, using our members who live on the corridor to make connections.

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Our challenges include: narrow roadway width along part of the corridor—two blocks with closely spaced driveways that would perforate a protected bike lane, the tendency of some to pit transit versus bikes, and potential removal of car parking on a few blocks.

We want to emphasize how biking can support the RapidRide’s less closely-spaced bus stops and the pedestrian safety improvements for crossing busy Delridge, especially at schools.

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Building community support

Now we are building relationships with community groups:

  • In April, four of our members did a helmet giveaway and fitting at Boren STEM K-8 school, using a Small Sparks grant that Joe and Marlowe Laubach got through the PTSA.
  • WSBC members who are school parents are planning Bike to School activities.
  • We are supporting an after-school bike club project at Puget Ridge Cohousing that Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association’s Willard Brown initiated.
  • We are talking with Willard Brown about other Safe Routes to Schools projects.
  • We moved our monthly meetings to Neighborhood House in High Point, more convenient to the Delridge corridor.

After we garner support from the variety of community groups, we will go to our Seattle City Council members and make our case to the public at large.

Up to the challenge

There is a lot more work to do. It will take concentrated effort to build support in time to have an impact on the RapidRide project. But we have members who are willing, and we are up to the challenge. We are grateful for the support and wise counsel that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways staff are giving us.

Interested in joining our efforts? Learn more at westseattlebikeconnections.org.

Update (April 11th, 2018):

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways collaborated with West Seattle Bike Connections, Seattle Subway, Transportation Choices Coalition, Transit Riders Union, Feet First, and Cascade Bicycle Club to come to a compromise around a design for this corridor. The comprimse design keeps buses moving through the most congested portions of the corridor, provides a southbound protected bike lane on Delridge Way, a northbound bike route on significantly upgraded neighborhood greenways, and improves sidewalks and crosswalks along the corridor. Read our collaborative Delridge multimodal corridor letter.

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Update: (July 30th, 2018):

Led by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Council voted unanimously to continue collaborating with us and community groups to come to a design that improves mobility and safety for all. They required (by restricting future funding) SDOT to return to the City Council Transportation Committee with details about investments in the walking and biking compromise outline above as the project moves forward. Thank you to Councilmember Herbold for your leadership on this important project!

Lisa Herbold asking SDOT for answers about the proposed investments for walking and biking

Lisa Herbold asking SDOT for answers about the proposed investments for walking and biking

Delridge bike route compromise routing

Potential compromise bike routes

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Fixing Rainier Ave: Group Bike Ride Looks at a Contested Street

Story by Adrian Down, Rainier Valley Greenways.

For people biking in Rainier Valley, finding safe and direct routes can be a challenge. Answers to the question, “What’s the best way to get from Columbia City to downtown?” vary widely because right now, none of the options are great. Rainier Avenue might be the flattest and most direct route, but the current street design is unsafe for people on bikes. Safer routes over Beacon Hill or north to Judkins add both considerable mileage and elevation.

This challenge is at the heart of a current debate, as Seattle Department of Transportation redesigns Rainier Ave to create a new RapidRide bus line serving the Valley. This line will replace Metro’s current Route 7, a well-used route that is a vital connection for many people in the South End.

The future of Rainier Avenue: three options on the table

Seattle Department of Transportation’s proposal for Rainier Avenue improvements includes a few different options for bike routes running the length of Rainier Valley. The three proposed options include routes connecting sections of protected bike lanes along Rainier Ave with sections of greenways and other infrastructure off the main Rainier Ave corridor, in varying configurations. One of these proposed sections off Rainier connects from the Mount Baker light rail station (at Rainier Ave South and Martin Luther King Blvd) north to South Dearborn Street and the I-90 Trail.

180313_AdvisoryBoard_RRR180313_AdvisoryBoard_RRR option 2180313_AdvisoryBoard_RRR option 3
Putting the City’s solutions to the test

A group of nine Rainier Valley Greenways volunteers braved light afternoon rain and had a great time touring the three options for this section of the proposed bike route to provide on-the-ground feedback to SDOT. Our group consisted of multiple types of bikes and riders, including a cargo bike full of groceries, bikeshare bikes, and a family with a young child on a bike pulled by her parent—which gave us commentary from a spectrum of experiences. After riding the proposed routes going north from the light rail station towards South Dearborn Street and downtown, we compiled a list of observations and suggestions.

RainierAveScoutingRideMedium

Our ride and recommendations

  • The group ride started at Mount Baker Station at Rainier Avenue South and Martin Luther King Junior Way South. We found right away that improved crossings at Martin Luther King Junior Way South and Rainier Avenue are essential. This busy intersection is the gateway to a major transit hub (the Mount Baker light rail station) and requires preferential treatment for pedestrians and people on bikes trying to access the station. More sidewalk space for people waiting for the lights to change, curb cuts that face into crosswalks rather than into busy traffic lanes, and safe, intuitive infrastructure for bikes would be drastic improvements.
  • We rode north from Mount Baker Station on Martin Luther King Junior Way South, which currently has heavy, fast-moving car traffic and will require modification before it feels comfortable for people on bikes. We recommend fully protected bike lanes on this stretch of busy road.
  • The first challenge for this proposed route is a left turn from Martin Luther King Junior Way South to get people on bikes onto back roads and eventually across Rainier Avenue. Of the two proposed route options, the South Bayview Street crossing of Rainier Avenue, seemed superior to crossing at South Plum Street, where we observed traffic backing up and blocking the intersections where South Plum Street crosses both 23rd Avenue South and Rainier Avenue. A protected intersection at South Bayview Street and Martin Luther King Junior Way South will be essential to help people on bikes make a left turn from MLK Jr Way across multiple lanes of traffic. This intersection will require crossing lights, markings, and traffic calming to be safe and comfortable for people to cross.
  • South Bayview Street is a relatively quiet road, but its wide street design encourages high car speeds. A safer experience requires either protected bike lanes on both sides or a woonerf design that would both discourage cut-throughs and slow car drivers enough that the mixing of high bike traffic and infrequent cars is reasonable. While this route will need safety upgrades, our group was pleasantly surprised by the relatively flat terrain of the back roads that we toured in this area.
  • Our group continued west along South Bayview Street and crossed Rainier Avenue. This intersection is critical.
    We recommend a full traffic light that provides plenty of time for a large group of people walking and biking to cross. Additionally, pedestrian improvements such as building curb cuts that face into the crosswalks, rather than diagonally into traffic lanes as they do now, and narrowing the entrance from South Bayview Street onto Rainier Avenue. We also suggest closing South Bayview Street on the West side of Rainier Avenue to cars. This would not restrict the access of vehicles to any businesses serviced by that intersection and would create a much safer route for people on bikes to travel and wait at the intersection.

CaptureNoSpandexRequiredRVGScoutingRideTweet

 

  • The route winds along side streets to the west of Rainier Avenue that are relatively quiet with low traffic volumes. However, they are wide industrial streets with several potential dangers. The current road design with wide lanes, sloping, gravel shoulders, and wide turning radiuses at intersections encourages cars and trucks to speed. The roads are scattered with gravel and industrial-area detritus, and multiple driveways and parking lots create conflict points. And the route is windy and confusing, directing people on bikes and on foot through an area that isn’t intuitive. We suggest that this whole route be treated as a mixed-use path. Intersections should include diverters or reduced widths and curve radiuses. It would be possible to keep routes accessible for trucks and other large vehicles by building low curbs that can be driven over. We would like to see sites with multiple entrances reduced as much as possible, and clearly defined where they are required. The route also needs ample signage and street markings to make wayfinding effortless, and clearly mark the road as a mixed use right of way. The lack of traffic is a plus of this route, and it could feel safe given these improvements. Finally, the entrance from this route to the I-90 trail has misaligned bollards and curb ramps. A wider, more accessible entrance would accommodate people on bikes, particularly those with cargo bikes, long frames, and trailers, and people in wheelchairs.

CaptureNickVdHtweetfromRVGscoutingride

The value of community-based scouting rides

SDOT’s proposed routes present plenty of design challenges, but we hope that by providing detailed input, we can help to make the final product as usable and comfortable as possible for all people on bikes and on foot.

Group rides touring proposed routes are a fantastic way for neighbors to provide valuable, impactful feedback to SDOT and other planners. Being on the ground in these spaces, looking at intersections from a bicyclist or pedestrian viewpoint provides a user experience that is incredibly important to the success of the final project. Our group shared valuable local knowledge and feedback, built neighborhood connections and community, and had a great time.

Thank you to all of our Rainier Valley Greenways volunteers for joining us and contributing their voices and viewpoints to this project.

 

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How the Community Package was Won

EDITORS NOTE: You probably have heard that we won $83 million for walking, biking, parks, and affordable housing paid for by the Washington State Convention Center expansion project, but have you heard the full story? Let Central Seattle Greenways co-leader Brie Gyncild tell you the inside story of how it all came together.

 

Story by Brie Gyncild, Central Seattle Greenways.

What’s an alley worth? Or the area underneath a city street? When a developer asks to assume public property for private development, it’s called a street or alley “vacation” and they have to provide a commensurate public benefit. The Washington State Convention Center required alley and underground street vacations to make their project work and therefore they needed to provide public benefits.

Use of public resources—what do we, the public, get back in exchange?

The proposed Washington State Convention Center Addition is a colossal undertaking, with a design that depends on the City vacating multiple alleys and the right of way under some major downtown streets. The $1.6 billion expansion is one of the largest developments in Seattle history and is to be built on publicly owned land, by a public entity, and using public funding.

Seizing the opportunity to shape the project’s public benefits, several community groups and nonprofits set about advocating—separately—to have their individual projects included in the public benefits package.

For our part, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways was focused on obtaining funding for protected bike lanes in the Pike/Pine corridor and on 8th Avenue, as well as pedestrian safety improvements on the I-5 overpasses on Pike Street, Pine Street, and Olive Way. Other organizations were advocating for improvements to Freeway Park, a Lid I-5 feasibility study, affordable housing, funding for the Terry Avenue woonerf, and other worthy projects.

Stronger together

But we recognized that we’d be stronger if we worked together to gain the investments the community needs most: public open spaces, safe routes for people walking and biking, and homes affordable to working families.

So, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways convened a coalition of transportation, parks, and affordable housing organizations to fight for a fair deal. The Community Package Coalition, as we call ourselves, is made up of our own neighborhood groups Central Seattle Greenways and the First Hill Improvement Association, as well as Capitol Hill Housing, Cascade Bicycle Club, the Freeway Park Association, the Housing Development Consortium, Lid I-5, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

Community Package Coalition logos

 

Pooling our limited resources, we galvanized public support through months of public outreach, public tours of the convention center sites and the benefits included in the Community Package, meetings with City Council members, public comment at Seattle Design Commission meetings, and significant press coverage.

Thousands of hours of effort paid off when we successfully negotiated $61 million in public benefits with the developer of the Convention Center Addition. This investment, in addition to the $20 million already proposed by the Convention Center, is commensurate with the scale of the vacation petition and is comparable to other recent large, multi-block developments.

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An historic win: $83 million in public benefits!

We didn’t get everything we wanted; negotiations often require compromise. But the final public benefits package is four times the size of the developer’s original offer, and ultimately, the community will receive safer biking and walking infrastructure, affordable housing, and much-needed open space.

After we reached an agreement with Pine Street Group (the developer of the WSCC Addition), the City Council unanimously approved the vacation and proposed benefits on May 7, granting the Pine Street Group its necessary permits.

community package map of benefits

Going forward

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is proud to be part of the Community Package Coalition and its successful partnership with WSCC to realize a shared vision of building a well-connected, accessible, people-centered city with opportunity and benefits for all. This achievement demonstrates what is possible when community groups band together and work to reach a fair deal with developers.

While the Community Package Coalition has provided a great example of how community groups and developers can work together to create a powerful legacy, we recognize that this took a significant amount of effort and that not all communities may be able to replicate our efforts.That’s why we’re pleased that on May 21, City Council passed a resolution to update the city’s right-of-way vacation policies, making the process easier for communities that have fewer resources, and providing clarity for developers about the value of street and alley vacations and the types of public benefits that are needed.

Final thoughts

In the end, we not only won an amazing list of public benefits (see the map above) from the Washington State Convention Center, but also changed the system itself to be more accessible, equitable, and result in more fair deals for our public land.

My own personal take: Nothing like this has been done before, and the process required creativity, persistence, and trust that we could work together. Not only did we pave the way for future community benefits wins, but we developed strong relationships among the coalition partners along the way.

Inspired by this community-driven victory? Pitch in to help make more outcomes like this possible.

 

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